Lady Lions yield late goal, edged 3-2
Lambdin scores twice for 2-1 lead
SAGU to host LSU-Shreveport on Sat.
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Playing with the passion of their all-purple uniforms, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s softball team held a 2-1 lead against a veteran Northwood University on Thursday afternoon. It disappeared in the final minutes.
Coming up short, 3-2, did little to diminish the continued development of SAGU’s young soccer program.
“The team really works hard and genuinely wants to improve,” said Head Coach Mandy Fortner. “It is a joy to watch the way they battle. While we have plenty of work to do, their work ethic shows up most on defense.”
It was the third consecutive game the Lady Lions showed measurable progress from start to finish.
“It’s amazing how much can be accomplished with passionate play, especially when no one cares who gets the credit,” added Fortner.
The defense was taxed with containing Northwood’s Natalie Carter, the league’s top scoring threat. Guarded primarily by Gloria Lozano (El Paso, Tx / Socorro HS), she was held in check.
The senior still managed to fire 10 shots, with four on goal; she did generate a single first-half tally. Lozano, at 5’9, matched up well and never backed down.
The one-on-one duals were worth watching. Carter managed several scoring bids, but was thwarted by the sinewy Lozano, a sophomore. Frustrated by the physical attention, Carter drew a yellow card with eleven minutes to play and the scored tied 2-2.
Speaking of inspired play, Amy Lambdin (Stockton, Cal / Elliot Christian) was a factory. She produced and shipped energy to her teammates with her opportunistic play and her driven nature.
Lambdin, a sophomore from the Left Coast, scored both SAGU goals by being in the right place. Each gave the Lady Lions a one-goal lead against a team who had outscored them 24-1 in the previous five games in this series.
The Purple Pride spent ninety-minutes hustling, scrambling, covering for one another on the back line, tackling and generally stifling a Lady Knights team that boasted of nine seniors and nine juniors.
Southwestern, in comparison, has one senior and four juniors.
SAGU struck first in the game’s 19th minute. Noelle Pugliese (Lee’s Summit, Mo / Lee’s Summit North HS) sent a cross into the crowd about 15 yards from the goal.
The feisty Natalie Pena (Dallas, Tx / Union HS, Tulsa, Ok) gathered in the ball, and then tapped it to her right where Lambdin was already charging the goal mouth. She touched the ball once, and then blazed a shot that ripped the nets about 4-feet high on the right side.
Carter knotted the score at 33:42 before the game settled into a defensive stalemate. Northwood held a possession advantage for an estimated 65% of the game, but quality scoring chances were limited. There would be no scoring for over thirty-five minutes.
Then, SAGU struck quickly.
Lozano stepped in front of a player to swipe the ball near midfield. She maneuvered past two Northwood players before for spotting Pugliese (pug-LEES) on the right flank, leading her with a pass.
The junior forward eased up to allow her cohorts time to advance before centering a pass up and into the box towards Pena (PAIN-ya).
How she succeeded at gathering and then controlling the ball in a crowd was as difficult as packing barbed wire in a paper bag. Pena surfaced with the ball, and then darted to her right, releasing an eight-yard, would-be score to the keeper’s (Cristin Heilker) left.
The goalie dove, swatting the ball with her left hand.
Dashing in to seize the rebound was Lambdin. Like a fox in a henhouse, she buried the carom high into the twine at 69:36.
With a 2-1 lead she smiled like a happy crocodile!
Defending that advantage for the next twenty minutes proved to be as hard as describing the taste of an oyster. Northwood rose to the situation with a barrage of pressure.
Jessica Powell-Roman (Terrell, Tx / Terrell HS) blocked a shot by Jessica Gomez from 10-yards following one of the Knights’ nine cornerkicks.
Alas, a regrouped Northwood squad made the equalizer in the 75th minute. Laura Barba got past Nella Ramirez (Waco, Tx / Waco HS) on the left side, converting a one-on-one chance.
Amber Belisle (Roseville, Cal / Whitney HS) was up to the task of replacing goalie Hayley Shingleton (Pasadena, Tx / Deer Park HS), who is out for three games.
She made a career-high 16 saves, most of them by snaring high shots. Earlier the 5-foot-7 smothered a pair of low scoring bids at point-blank range.
Belisle (bah-LIE-yul) robbed Carter with a kick save in the 77th. Two minutes later Audrey Davila (Grand Prairie, Tx / South GP HS) defended another try by Carter.
The Knights delivered what seemed like an inevitable tally in the 80th minute. Rocio (raw-SHE-oh) Gutierrez unloaded a curveball from twenty yards, beating Belisle to the upper right corner. Gutierrez (goo-TEE-AIR-es) had assisted on Barba’s tying kick.
Southwestern battled to the end, but couldn’t mount a good scoring chance in the closing moments. There would be no late heroics for the Lady Lions, though not for a lack of 'want-to.'
It was a third consecutive outing with a similar production for Team Lioness. SAGU has four one-goal setbacks in their 1-7 ledger.
Near-wins and wins. They are, as Thomas Paine once said, getting about as close as twilight is to darkness.
SAGU will return to the pitch on Saturday when LSU-Shreveport (4-3, 1-0 in RRAC) visits Waxahachie. The game is set to start at 3:00pm. It will follow the men's game at 1:00pm.